Monday, October 21, 2019

Inktober progress: 20/31 Xmas letters done so far...We're almost 2/3rds of the way there!

Should be able to do it...there are a couple of things I need to be aware of along the way though:

- Have another birthday letter to write (one that I sorta missed, too...)
- I've only got a week and a half left in the month and still need to do my monthly pixel art album cover...
- Some of the letters that I haven't done yet are the hard ones...one that needs to be written in Japanese, and three that I imagine will be quite on the longer side.

But hey, progress is progress.  Even more than that, I started up my writeups on Unlock Everything, my Ludum Dare 45 entry.  You can read the first one at https://ddrkirby.com/articles/shader-based-transitions/shader-based-transitions.html.  I also reorganized my website a bit - you'll notice there's an entire tab for articles (https://ddrkirby.com/articles/articles.html) where I've moved all of my post-mortems to.

I haven't forgotten about all of the other things I need to do either...haha.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

It's always a really fascinating feeling, seeing people from other countries interacting with your work.  The communication barrier is there, yet somehow you still created something that someone else interacted with and shared.  Whenever it happens, a part of me feels the need to reach out to these people, to tell them a thanks, and to make my presence known as a person.  But at the same time, I know that it's not necessary.  For the work itself is already a form of communication alone.  You perhaps can't judge a creator solely by their works, but that doesn't make them any less valid a form of expressing things.  I think that's why I always feel a very interesting respect and connection with other creators whose works connect with me in the same way that I'd like my works to connect with people.  Even though we may be on different wavelengths, it still gives me the feeling that I share a commonality with these other creators.  It's a vague feeling of understanding, to have started from maybe-wildly-different places yet still end up speaking a similar creative language.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I'd need to write 64 more letters by the end of the year if I want to hit a 100 letters/year statistic, hahaha...don't think that's going to happen unfortunately.  Right now I'm sitting at 96.521 letters per year, which doesn't seem TOO far off, but it's a lot to make up for when you consider that it's across 12.29 years...

These nights remind me of what it feels like to be alive.

It makes me unreasonably sad that I'm looking at my log and for many people the last time I wrote to them was an entire year ago, last October.

I mean that's totally understandable for these people whom I don't really consider to be close, or those people who I never even expect to hear back from or whatever

But it makes me sad seeing that even for the people whom are in my inner circle.  It makes me feel a twinge of failure, that I haven't been living up to myself.

I know it's not that bad though.  I don't feel terrible about it or anything because I don't feel that I've been doing a horrible job of keeping up with these people (mostly).  But the initial gut reaction upon realizing it, it does sting a bit.

As always though, the power is in myself to do something about it.  Winter is coming, after all, and if nothing else winter is the season for me to retrace my steps to the past.

...ok, who are we kidding, =every= season is the season for me to retrace my steps to the past.  But winter especially...the season most removed from change...

I hope this winter, that I'll be able to make the time to look back and remember my true self.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Literally every time I hear good music I think to myself "damn.  I want to make an entire album in this style"

LD45, other updates

So yeah, Ludum Dare 45 happened last weekend!  I made this:


Which you can play/download at https://ddrkirby.com/games/unlock-everything/unlock-everything.html

Rating goes on for another 2 weeks, after which we'll know the (largely inconsequential and somewhat random) results are, but aside from that, I'm super happy with how it came out and moreover, I had a BLAST making it, as I got to put a whole bunch of stuff that I love into the game.  It's been 3 full years since I last made an LD game by myself and it's quite impressive seeing how far I've managed to come in that time, in pretty much all aspects -- particularly in the art.  Using a 4-color palette and limited resolution (200x120) definitely helped, as well as referencing Mega Man a bunch, but even past that I generally felt a lot more confident in my ability to pixel and even animate to the best of my ability.  Those conveyor belts came out really nicely especially.  In terms of Godot as an engine, it worked fantastically.  It wasn't perfect, but I'm more than sold on using it from now on, without looking back.

As always, things have been a flurry in the week after LD, since I've had to track down a number of bugfixes and small changes, as well as put out the soundtrack and upload everything on itch.io, among other things.  I'd like to add some small extra post-game content and write some dev notes at some point if I have time in the next 2 weeks, but we'll see whether that actually ends up happening.

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I got a bit behind on Inktober letters because of LD, so I've been playing catchup with those, but I'm about back on track now, so that has been going smoothly.

Randomly, I started developing some interest in whether I could make sense of Socionics (MBTI's much-less-mainstream but more usefully accepted cousin).  I haven't really wrapped my head around it yet, not even what type I might correspond to, but we'll see what comes out of that.

Puyo training continues every once in a while on the backburner.  I no longer feel 100% lost when I'm trying to do GTR, but it's still definitely more difficult for me to work out, both extending off of the transition itself as well as figuring out the tail.  I'm just going to have to experiment more and watch for ideas to take from other players...

Risk of Rain update came out with some interesting new skills to unlock, but I've unfortunately been unable to unlock any of them LOL.  sadtimes...

Dance has been pretty fun lately, surprisingly (?) enough.  As I'm writing about it in some of these Xmas letters it really started to strike me how much my social attitude toward dance has changed and how I feel about that (mixed, but generally good feelings).

Work is going just fine.  WFH has been working out great as always.

I'm starting to rewatch Chihayafuru, haha.  Just started now, so haven't gotten up to any of the super exciting parts yet.  I also started watching Symphogear...

Some things lately reminding me of my past (hah, since when is that ever not true?).  It's always a reminder to me, to make sure that I stay true to my past self.  For my past self is always a version of my ideal self.

Next cooking recipe to try out -- salmon chowder?

Meowmies are wonderful.

As always, there are infinity more things to still get done -- Patreon remix requests, album art, birthday letters, and the like -- but as always, I'll continue to try and work at them one by one, slowly but steadily bringing them each to completion.  What else would I be doing with my life if not that?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Big Five" Personality Test 2019

Here are the last results, from 2018, for reference.

Didn't spend a ton of time on it this time, went through pretty quickly.  A lot of the questions on this specific test are essentially repeats of each other.  I should probably try a different questionnaire for this one at some point, but here's the same one that I took last year and in 2011:

Openness           24 -> 32
Conscientiousness 100 -> 100
Extraversion        1 -> 1
Agreeableness      82 -> 65
Neuroticism        95 -> 71

That's more or less in line with before.  I worry less, which makes a lot of sense as I'm a little more laid back now (as in, I still constantly think about what needs to be done, but it doesn't =stress= me as much), and I guess I'm a little more judgmental of people, or at least have realized that I am such.  I think that's a function of having less of a syndrome of trying to really please people and hope for the best in them, I guess I am just more jaded with regards to people.  Certain things will do that to ya.

Really the only constants are the introversion, and even more than that the conscientiousness.  I swear if I could score over 100 on conscientiousness I would...every single question about that is always a snap answer for me no matter what type of test it is.  Getting things done in an extremely consistent and reliable manner is basically my driving force in life...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Ludum Dare 45 cram time

Ludum Dare 45 is less than 3 days away now and I'm still trying to get everything done!  So far experimenting with Godot Engine has been great -- it's not perfect (no game engine ever is), but I've been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to put things together despite being bogged down by having to repeatedly check documentation and look up how to do things.  Probably the absolute #1 thing that it's got going for it so far though is that it's lightweight, which means it's FAST.  Even an export to WebGL in release mode happens in the blink of an eye compared to Unity where I would literally use an entirely separate machine to do my builds so I wouldn't be blocked forever.  The html export is clean and just =makes sense= too -- no having to worry about random padding or silly borders or anything like that.  It's clean, slim, and honestly pretty great.  I've even been experimenting with some screenspace palette-based shaders that I could use for some dynamic lighting effects, so that's pretty cool too.  In general, the documentation is a little lacking, and some of the UI isn't 100% intuitive yet, and other things could use more shortcuts, but I'm pretty happy at all of the things that are working out of the box.

So here's the list of things that I managed to get all done since last time:

- Birthday letter done
- 4 xmas letters done
- September Monthlies pixel art done (and album published)
- Pixel art commision done (100 tiny sprites all drawn)
- Caught a cold now so I don't have to worry about getting sick later (lol...)
- Started work on a nifty side personal project as well
- Made good progress on the Godot warmup project

As far as the Godot side goes, I managed to figure out:

- The basics of scripting, nodes, scenes, signals, and all that
- How to use pixel art integer scaling and pixel snap
- How to animate sprites
- How to play sounds (basic)
- Tilemaps and autotiling
- Moving objects along paths
- Dynamic 2d lighting and pixel shaders
- Exporting to webgl, adjusting my site CSS/JS to accomodate
- Basic audio bus FX (limiter)

I still need to =build=:

- A project template and bitbucket repo for the jam
- Screen transitions!
- A splash screen intro placeholder
- A main menu placeholder
- A singleton for managing music/sound across scenes?

Other stuff I need to do:

- Take care of meowmies and quails
- One Hour Compo on Thursday, I'll probably try to warm up in chiptune style since I hope to make something with a very limited palette.
- Declare my starter code, make an "I'm In" post
- 1 more xmas letter
- Photograph the Inktober letters...
- Actual work for my job...
- Grocery run on Friday

Unfortunately the 4-wide trainer stuff, Patreon remix, etc will have to wait until later.  I don't know if I'll be able to slap a label on the godot warmup project and publish it, but I might try very quickly just to get it out of the way...

Phew........

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Since Ludum Dare is in two weeks, I want to get some Christmas letters done ahead of time so I can still keep up with one letter a day for Inktober, so....it's officially that time of year again.  Xmas letters 2019, Mission Start!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

She was there
she was there with me again
and now she is gone
lost forever in this world that is reality

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

There are scant few times when I say to myself "screw it, I'm really just going to take a short break and RELAX right now by doing whatever I want" but every once in a while I run into them.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Rain is here <3

It seems to be checkup season for me as I have/had appointments with my doctor, dentist, and optometrist these two weeks.  So far the doctor and optometrist both told me that I'm looking pretty healthy, but we'll see about the dentist...haha (pretty sure I'll have to get some work done).

I think my goal for the upcoming Ludum Dare (10/4-6) is actually going to be to use Godot Engine!  I've had almost no experience actually using Godot (I downloaded it in the past a long time ago), but I'm feeling quite optimistic about it based on everything I've read, especially after they released their major 3.0 update.  Godot is open-source (no licensing whatsoever!) and looks to offer a 2D-optimized workflow (no silly hacks to get your pixel art working properly), somewhat of a hybrid between the lightweight nature of Flashpunk/Flixel plus the editor/scene view of something like Unity.  I'm actually feeling very hopeful that this will be my future engine of choice, though of course the only real way to tell will be to give it a test run.  Of course Rhythm Quest will still have to be finished up in Unity, but I don't think that's a huge deal to be honest.

This does mean that I'll have to ditch all of my Unity code that I've accumulated over the years, but hopefully a lot of it is things that I don't NEED anymore in Godot as I won't have to do my own boxcasting and 2d platformer physics implementations anymore -- that kind of functionality looks to be baked in so all you need to do is write the actual kinematic physics logic.  Audio functionality seems to be promising as well, there's even a page dedicated to syncing audio with gameplay, so you can tell these are issues that they're actually thinking about.  Of course need to look into playing around with the engine before LD actually hits, as well as maybe building out some common functions that I might need like screen transitions and the like (this could also be a good time to implement some fancier transitions rather than using screen fades for everything).

I've certainly got a lot of things to take care of in the remaining half of the month, but I'm getting through them one by one (already took care of the FNW setlist for example).  I guess here are the main things left that HAVE to get done in this timeframe:

- One or two more birthday letters to write
- Write a few Inktober letters ahead of time so I don't have to do them during LD
- Need to do pixel art for September Monthlies
- Pixel art commissions -- I've drawn 57 sprites, need to do ~43 more
- Warm up project for LD using Godot

There are some other things that would be pretty nice to get squared away as well:

- Clean up room decorations...
- Need to finish a remix for a Patreon request (I've already started)
- Finish work on my 4-wide trainer so I can publish it (mostly a bunch of documentation and formatting)
- Pixel art for some various album covers....

So yeah, a bunch of stuff.  We'll see how much of it I actually get through, but as always, as long as I'm making steady forward progress, I can't really complain.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Did the laundry, wrote a letter, prepared two meals, made some dance edits, put together a setlist, swept the floor, filed some letters....I'm on the right track for today.  There's still much to do, though.  Music, pixel art, coding, writing, cleaning...there's no way around it but to simply do each one of them in turn.  Life has no shortcuts or breaks, only tradeoffs and priorities.

Monday, September 9, 2019

It feels really silly, putting an address on the envelope
when I know it will never reach my past

But it's all a part of the ritual.  And this, too, is important.

"Celeste: Farewell" is out today.  I'll have to wait until an appropriate time to play through it with the attention that it deserves.


I'm not in any rush.  I know the mountain will be there, waiting for me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Crunchyroll Expo, Mega Man 11, 2D Platformer ability design

Life has just been chugging along, it seems.  Nothing spectacular has been happening, but that's not a bad thing really at all.


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Crunchyroll Expo 2019 happened and I stopped by on Saturday to hang out, walk around, and go to some things that seemed interesting.  I got to go see the premiere of the first two episodes of Season 3 of Chihayafuru which actually ended up being a highlight of the entire thing, I had no idea I was going to enjoy it that much!  That moment near the end when _____ finished playing their match and thought to themselves _________ and the other member on their team suddenly realized _________, omg, that really really got to me for some reason.  So yeah, that was great!  Makes me want to rewatch the first two seasons at some point, especially to refresh my memory about all of the other more minor characters that I completely forgot about, haha...oh!  And I just remembered that there's a live action movie series as well...maybe I'll give that a watch too =X

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I bought and played through all of Mega Man 11!  I pulled the trigger after watching some reviews and such and since it was on sale on Steam.

I ended up enjoying it quite nicely!  It's a nice blend of old and new as far as Mega Man goes.  The thing with Mega Man is that the old tried and true formula is really just great at its core -- running and jumping and shooting.....more running and jumping and shooting....it's just good 2D platforming at its finest and I've always been a huge fan of it.  That said there ARE already a ton of classic Mega Man games out there, so as much as I'd love more games in the vein of Mega Man 9 and 10 (which were faithful to the NES series) (various fangames also exist, some of which I've played through), I will say that the fresh coat of paint that Mega Man 11 offers does make a lot of sense.


The graphics were pretty decent and I didn't mind the 2.5D much at all!  Unlike a certain other popular game pretty much everything was very readable -- just look at the screenshot above and how obvious it is that the yellow center pieces of each gear are in the foreground, while the rest of the gear is in the background.  One thing I thought looked a little odd were the "fuzziness" of the black outlines on the cel shading, but maybe I should chalk that up to me playing on a monitor with only 1280x1024 resolution?  Perhaps it looks better with a higher pixel density, but maybe rendering thin outlines is just not a strong point of the cel shaded look.

The bosses were pretty well designed -- they had a lot of personality, both in their animations and voice acting (I played only with the Japanese VA).

Maybe I was a bit biased after watching a video analyzing the level design, but I really did appreciate the designs of most of the stages and how they made for interesting progressions despite only using a few unique elements per stage.  It felt like they really made the most of many (perhaps not all, but many) of the different "gimmicks" they introduced in each stage, and that sort of clean, logical, and pleasant progression reminded me a little bit of Celeste.



The main "new mechanic" of MM11 is the "double gear system", which allows you to get a temporary limited boost to your power or slow down time for a bit.  It was an interesting concept, and actually played out pretty neatly in practice a few times -- those moments when you activate the both (double) gears at once for a last-ditch attempt to beat a miniboss and then finish the fight at low health.

However, one of my complaints about all of these "extra" 2D platforming abilities -- whether it be special weapons in mega man, additional items in shovel knight, or even magic spells in hollow knight -- is that they tend to provide a sort of frantic decision paralysis in the moment while you're in the middle of an intense fight or platforming section.

The issue is that platforming and jumping around and shooting and all of these things already occupies so much of your brainspace in terms of attention required, that it's really hard to also add in the double gear system and trying to use the different special weapons and all of those things.

Now that I'm writing about this, it really gets me thinking about 2D platformer ability design.  I know that other people might really enjoy switching between different weapons during the middle of a Mega Man level, but I've always found it to be cumbersome, and a weak point of the series for me personally -- I always Buster my way through most of the stages unless there's something particularly well suited for a particular weapon (e.g. a tricky room, a platform that I need to air-dash too, etc).

There are multiple reasons for this:
- Weapons have limited ammo available (whereas the mega buster has unlimited ammo), so you naturally want to conserve them for situations where you actually NEED them.
- In addition, the bosses at the end of each stage typically have a significant weakness to a single weapon, and you don't know what it is ahead of time.  Since the boss battle can be one of the most difficult parts of the entire stage, this incentivizes you to save all of your ammo for the boss.  Again, you don't know which weapon type you'll need, and frequently you'll need all of the ammo of that type to beat the boss.
- Switching weapons requires either opening up the menu -- which is awkward in terms of game flow -- or quick-toggling via the right analog stick or the shoulder buttons.  The right analog stick selection is actually great, but there aren't enough opportunities to really =practice= mapping each direction to a weapon in order for it to become second nature.  Because of this, switching weapons requires you to stop and think about which weapon you want to use, figure out which direction to press in order to switch, THEN go about using the weapon.

So even though I thought Mega Man 11's eight special weapons were GREAT in their variety and design (you could tell they each would be useful in very different cases), I didn't find myself using them much outside of boss and miniboss battles.

I know this is part of Mega Man's fundamental core design, so I don't really blame Capcom for not iterating on it, but I do wonder if perhaps a different mechanic for boss weapons would work a little better.

If you look at abilities in Metroidvania games, you'll see that they fall into two different groups:

Some abilities fit very naturally into gameplay and you find yourself using them again and again very naturally.
The most common way for abilities to fall into this category is for them to just be upgrades to your existing powers.  Get a main weapon upgrade?  You're automatically using it all the time.
Note that some abilities are not "direct" upgrades but natural and very obvious extensions of existing powers.  A doublejump ability, for example, is very straightforward to grok.  The speed booster upgrade in Super Metroid is the same way -- there's nothing complicated about how to activate it, you just keep running.
Another common way for abilities to fall into this category is for them to be required to be used very very commonly.  The morph ball in Metroid falls into this category -- you use it soooooo often that it becomes second nature for you to use it again and again and again.

Other abilities don't really become part of your regular rotation.  They're either too situational, difficult to use, have a cost associated with them, etc.
The X-Ray scope in super metroid sort of falls into this.  Not only does the X-Ray scope stop all of your momentum, but you often don't really =know= when and where you need to use it.  So oftentimes your only choice is to go through the entire world pausing every so often to x-ray scope......but nobody does that because that would take foreeevvverr.
Most of the attack spells in Hollow Knight tend to fall into this category.  Not only do they require mana to use (mana which could be used for healing instead!), but there aren't a lot of enemies where using a certain magic attack is required or even significantly recommended over just using your sword.

The good thing about the offensive spells in Hollow Knight, though, is that they're very easy to execute, like the special moves in the Smash Bros series: Button press gives you a fireball.  Up + button press gives you an upwards attack.  Down + button press gives you a dive.  Very intuitive.  So even though I never really ended up using most of these most of the time, they're still easy to remember.

Perhaps that's really the key -- the control scheme associated with the abilities.  The WORST way to add a new ability is to simply add a new button or key for every single ability you gain.  There are some games where at the end of the game literally every button on the controller performs a different action: Jump, Attack, Sprint, Dash, Glide, Special Move 1, Teleport, ....

So maybe =intuitive button combos= and =contextual actions= are the way to go.  That still doesn't fix the problem of having limited ammo though.



What about something like this?

Every time you beat a robot master, you unlock a new ability.  These abilities have various intuitive input commands, for example:

Jump + Attack (while in the air): Performs a mid-air forward dash with a sword slice.
Special button + no direction: Creates an energy shield around you that absorbs enemy projectiles.  The next time you press the special button, the shield fires in the direction that you are holding (or facing)
Special button + either side: Shoots a boomerang in the direction that you're facing.  It has some tracking ability, which means you can direct it upwards or downwards by jumping before or after the shot.
Special button + down: Sends an energy bolt downwards.  When it reaches the ground, it splits into two energy balls that travel along the ground until hitting an enemy.
Special button (while mega buster is fully charged): 

Button combinations and contextual actions are used to help your muscle memory instead of forcing the player to memorize the arbitrary position of each of 8 different weapons.

These abilities all draw from a =shared ammo pool=, encouraging you to choose the ability that best fits the situation.

The shared ammo pool replenishes every time you die.  Normally Mega Man weapons encourage you to AVOID using them carelessly, because if you use up ammo on a boss and then die, you're left in a worse situation than you started with -- having to face the same boss battle, but with less ammo available.

In addition, the shared ammo pool also replenishes through normal gameplay, via something like:
- Gradual replenishment over time
- Replenishes with each enemy destroyed
- Replenishes via random pickups from enemies and scattered around the level.  There's also a large pickup before each boss.

The point is to encourage the regular use of these weapons as the situation demands, rather than incentivize saving ammo for the very end.  You need the player to become comfortable with using each of these abilities and the only way to really do this is to incentivize them to use them repeatedly.



So I dunno, maybe that's not a perfect solution.  But I do feel like there is a lot of room for experimentation and iteration here.

One thing that Mega Man 11 DID do right was giving rush coil/rush jet it's own button.  Woo!!!

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Have been continuing to drill puyo transitions -- I've gotten sort of comfortable with the sandwich transition and am now trying to wrap my head around GTR.  Building the GTR core is ok, but I find myself having trouble finding the right forms to work on both the first and second floor simultaneously with GTR since it's only 3 tall and I don't yet have a handle on managing color conflicts.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Those things that you left behind...they mean as much to you as you want them to.  It's okay to leave them behind for something better, but it's also okay to keep them close to you.  As long as you are being honest with yourself.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

JaSmix Summer 2019

I'll keep fighting.  I'll keep hoping.  Because it's a fortunate thing, to even be able to hope at all.  There are some who are not so lucky.  Those who have been forced to face the reality of life.


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JaSmix Summer 2019 was this past weekend and it was a great success!  (For those not in the know, JaSmix is a community-run social dance event that I've been organizing and putting together for the past 3 years -- it's completely free and it runs for the entire day with workshops, lessons, and lots of social dancing)  Like always, it was a lot of work, but really satisfying to hear everyone's positive feedback and energy and to see everyone having a great time.  We started at 3PM this year (and ran until midnight, as usual), but we had an even more packed event this time, with events running simultaneously in both the GCC and Hacienda for most of the day -- we had 6 workshops, a group intensive, private lessons, and of course lots of dancing.

There tends to be this point sometime during a JaSmix event where I suddenly get the realization that JaSmix is basically just as long as Big Dance and arguably MORE tiring for myself since I'm literally there for 9 straight hours (more like 10 if you include setup and teardown) doing everything.  I taught my "Advanced Turning Basics" workshop, did 4 private lessons, and had a 20-minute break to eat dinner before helping out with the practica session and then DJ for the dance.  I was feeling super tired after the combo of teaching my workshop and then 4 private lessons, but was pretty alright the dance had all started and most of my job was done.  My voice was definitely pretty much shot by the end of the night though -- talking so much will do that to ya.

As I mentioned, we had things running in two different rooms this time, which meant that this was the first time where it wasn't actually possible for me to be at all of the events that happened throughout the day. (need some sort of time turner if I want to do that....) so I wasn't able to see any of the group intensive nor any of the later workshops (I was busy teaching private lessons...).  Somehow it basically all went off without a hitch though, which I'm definitely grateful for.

My lesson itself went alright I think, people seemed to enjoy it at the very least.  The private lessons have been super rewarding as I feel like I've been getting much better at actually figuring things out together with people.  And I even got a few good dances in at some point during the night, which was great.  Oh, and people really made good use of the on-screen setlist display, so that was great.

Anyhow, I'm trying to take it a bit easy now that all of that is behind me.  Here's to the next JaSmix event, hopefully in about 6 months or so!

Monday, August 12, 2019

An...."interesting" weekend.  I'm definitely ready to just be done with people and things.  I've already noted this before, but it's really funny how my immediate reaction to being stressed, tired, or even just unhappy is to turn towards trying to get things done or accomplished.  That's not necessarily a bad thing at all, I mean it sort of makes sense really -- just gotta work through it so that it'll all be over sooner.  But it is sort of funny how it's during the myemie times that I can't think about taking a break.  It's extremely rare that I'll get to the point where I really just decide that I'm out.  Of course, it does happen.  But before I get to that point, it really annoys me if I show any sort of weakness.  I'm not really sure how I got to be that way, whether it was some sort of military discipline instinct or just something I think is a generally good attitude to have regardless.  Maybe it's because seeing other people slack off when the going gets rough always really bothered me.  The whole idea of being "hardcore" back in the marching band days.  The people in the group who weren't, who really didn't care...it was always a big issue.  But that's just how it is, in life -- everyone's here for different reasons, and they all work in different ways.  Hopefully, you find yourself in situations where you can cooperate with the people around you and feel comfortable.  Every once in a while you don't, though, and I guess that sort of happened this weekend?  Sometimes it's not malicious but rather, just unfortunate.

So uh...I guess that all was a really roundabout way of saying that this weekend was kind of unfortunate.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Life has continued to be pretty good these days...


Took another crew out to the deep for Space Alert and we managed to successfully complete all of our missions, including a hilarious SNAFU where we managed to end the mission with the right side of our ship completely falling apart and two of us knocked out by a plasmatic fighter...

DJed for FNW again yesterday!  Man it is really warm these days, sometimes I forget since I'm always indoors with A/C at home now (spoiled...).  It wasn't as stressful as last time, maybe I was just nervous that day or something *shrug*.  Anyways, my next gig will be JaSmix, going to make sure to cram all of the best songs into my set for that of course!

I've started trying to work on my JaSmix workshop as well.  Thinking about teaching these things has actually definitely given me the impetus to actually improve my dancing, which was sort of a pleasant surprise.  I guess it's as good of a motivation as any to try something a bit different with my dance and really explore it so that I can talk about it effectively.  Well, hopefully anyways.  We'll see how it goes.

Was really happy with my OHC entry this past week, had a sort of System Shock 2 vibe going with some neat rhythmic filtered pads.  (Speaking of System Shock 2, been thinking about going back and finishing that Ponterbee Station playthrough...)  I've started on the next composition on my plate which is another VGM remix -- that one is coming along, but fairly slowly, which is slightly concerning, but I guess not all of these can be things that I knock out in a single hour...

Studied Puyo a bit for PPT and it's definitely been more than good enough to cover my butt when I totally screw up in Tetris and fail to do anything meaningful lol.  There's still a lot of experience that I need on both sides to really understand a lot of effective play though.  Sometimes in Tetris I still just sort of blindly downstack without really doing anything effective.

The other week I was thinking a lot about tactics games and why Tactics Ogre really impressed me, even though in some aspects it was less "cool" than FFT.  I went and looked at some FFT mods actually, seeing if there was anything that was maybe worth playing through, but in the end decided not to.  I think the thing about Tactics Ogre (or, the One Vision mod specifically), is that it really managed to bring "Tactics" to the genre, which I appreciated.  In these tactics games, both class design and equipment choices should always be about tradeoffs and specialization.  It doesn't make sense to have a unit that is a jack-of-all-trades because you can only do a single thing per turn, so specialization is the name of the game.  But there always needs to be strengths that are balanced out by weaknesses, and each unit needs to have a defined role.  There can be mages that have high magical attack, but really weak defense.  That creates the need for knights which are really good at defending squishy units -- and in Tactics Ogre they even come with movement-inhibiting abilities that prevent enemies from just waltzing right past them and attacking your squishy mages.  But then you've also got archers which can attack the mages from afar without having to deal with the knights, but only if they have good positioning.  Again, it's all about tradeoffs.  That's an area where FFT definitely falls short -- FFT is more about just making cool combos and doing the most damage with everyone.  In FFT if you deal more damage, you do more damage to EVERYTHING, and class and equip configs just become a matter of who can out-DPS everything else and have the speed to apply it.  In Tactics Ogre on the other hand, you have Ninjas that can dual-wield daggers/katanas, which are excellent against squishy targets like mages and archers.  So the ninja is this specialized assassin unit whose role is to use high mobility to take out the high priority targets, and use high evasion and one-time defensive abilities to avoid getting killed along the way.  But ninjas can't really do nearly as much damage to tanky knights, because knights have a lot of defense, and that defense gets applied to BOTH of the hits of your dual-attack.  So what do you do if you need to take out these heavy knights?  Well, you either need mages, or you need a berserker unit that can wield a massive two-handed hammer/maul to chunk through their defense.  Again, more specialization.  Even in unit formations, there are tradeoffs -- you want to have your tanky frontline units surrounding/protecting your DPS dealers in the back, and you don't want to just leave holes in your formation everywhere, but at the same time if you clump everyone up that's just asking to be hit by AoE magic spells.  Tradeoffs!  That kind of thing is just not possible in FFT since you only have 5 units or so...

I finally got a "god run" in risk of rain 2 with Rex, and unlocked the final achievement, so now I've unlocked everything in the entire game!  It started off with an early 57-leaf-clover (best item in the game) and ended up spiraling way out of control when I got another 57-leaf-clover, some other good items, a ceremonial dagger, shaped glass, etc.  The early game was a bit stressful since Rex needs very careful HP management, but once I got to a certain point the shaped glass + ceremonial dagger was just sort of decimating everything and I also found a teddy bear printer and got myself 13 teddy bears so I had a ton of evasion as well.  After a while I ended up stacking FOUR shaped glass so I was now dealing 1600% damage and things were just melting even with just my auto-attack (not even my secondary attack!).  It got to the point where the ceremonial daggers would just insta-kill everything that spawned, including the teleporter bosses, and I basically only ever had to attack at the very beginning of a level to get things started.  Pretty insane.  Even after leaving my computer running overnight (perched in a safe spot), I was still pretty much instantly killing everything.  The only thing that could possibly kill me is Happiest Mask, which is currently bugged and sometimes the ghosts actually end up attacking (and dealing damage to) you for some reason.  So after getting bored, that's how I ended up going out.  (Would have liked to go to a shrine of order at some point for the lulz, but didn't find one.)

Went to see the 3rd Hibike movie a couple weeks ago....it was good, enjoyable, but certainly not up to the level of either of the anime seasons, nor Liz and the Blue Bird.  I think there were some really interesting feelings that got evoked with how much things changed, and how inconsequential some things seemed when put into the perspective of transience (or maybe that's just how I feel about everything)...at the same time it feels like the movie was not really saying that much, and some of the themes really felt very muddled, especially when compared to some things that happened in earlier seasons that were very very very strong.  Their performance was certainly beautifully rendered, I'll give you that...

Monday, July 15, 2019

It's been half a month...sorry!

Let's see here...

My new mechanical keyboard
Is a joy to type on.  For reference, it's a Pink Filco Majestouch 2 with cherry MX 'brown' switches and it looks just beautiful.  I've really gotten used to the feeling of the keys and there's definitely this feeling of tactile satisfaction that just....still makes me just want to press on the keys randomly every once in a while.  The Razer Basilisk has been working out pretty well too -- I think the only thing I wish I could do is configure the media keys to respond or not respond to certain apps (too often it tries to control a youtube video in chrome or whatever instead of foobar running in the background) but it's not a huge deal.  Having a modifier click + mouse wheel as volume adjustment is way more useful than I would have thought -- really glad I decided to map that combo.

Dear Toki
Is the game I ended up putting out for Friendship Jam and people seem to have enjoyed it!  It's a short text-based game about writing letters to reconnect to a long-lost friend and you can play it here.

pCloud as a replacement for Dropbox
Has more or less been working OK, though I've found that the automatic syncing function feels quite a bit slower than directly working with the pCloud drive network-mapped folder.  That might warrant some changes in how I organize things and what files/folders I'm choosing to make available offline, but I'm going to have to do some experimentation to know for sure.  It could be that I always grab things from pCloud Drive (?? not sure if that will work well for mapping my desktop folder to it) but use the make available offline option...

Risk of Rain 2
Has continued to be pretty enjoyable as I just continue to do random runs on Monsoon difficulty.  I've actually just unlocked two new items -- the guilliotine and the royal capacitor, both of which are actually very very good items, so that may actually have an impact on my runs moving forward.

Puyo Puyo / Tetris
I've gotten slightly better at Puyo, but most of my random practice has actually been maintaining 4-wide combos in Tetris, which has just been...a fun little mindless thing to practice every now and then.

Dance stuff
I'll be teaching a styling workshop this Saturday (come out to the GCC and join us!) and am also continuing to put things together for JaSmix next month (woo!)

Life
Overall is continuing to go pretty well these days.  I had a lot of things that I felt like I needed to take care of these past couple of weeks, yet I also managed to take care of a lot/most of them, I feel like.  I had a couple of music commissions to work through, for example, and I knocked them out extremely quickly (being able to work fast is really a blessing).  Even taking care of a bunch of random adulting stuff like new insurance plans, replacing car air filters, blahblahblahblah.......

Cooking
I'm somewhat inspired to try shui zhu yu yet again (lol) by a recent visit to a sichuan restaurant (I want to try and do better than them), but actually my most recent cooking experiment has been sous vide BBQ pork ribs cooked for 36 hours which actually turned out pretty great!  I made them a bit on the salty side because I used a bit more dry rub than recommended in the recipe (oops) but they were very tender at 145 degrees and weren't really a ton of work either.  Definitely something I'd endeavor to try again.

Kiki
I thought about Kiki a lot last week.  I still love her deeply, that is plain as day to me.  Though it's a bit sad, I think it's also a bit of a relief.  That that aspect of me perhaps may never change.  When something was once so important to you, that you can't help but keep it close to you, even if you didn't try at all.

Space Alert
I took a new crew out to The Deep for a try at some sessions of Space Alert this past weekend, to a surprising great success!  As usual I was the acting captain on our Sitting-Duck class ship, along with our chief engineer who had flown a couple missions out to The Deep in the past; the other two were newbie cadets straight out of the academy and we had to show them the ropes and bring them up to speed...I probably ended up barking out a bunch of orders to them during our simulation missions, but they had good instincts, at least for rookies -- they communicated their actions more clearly than my previous squad had, and they even shot some extra laser charges towards the end of the mission just in case.

I woke up in the cloning vat two days after and came to the realization that our first live mission had failed.  Unsurprising, but I still grimaced when I looked at the black box recording and realized what had happened -- in the heat of the action, both of our rookies had tripped -- one was trying to get port side and slammed right into the firing console for the main laser before picking herself up and limping the rest of the way.  I reprimanded them a bit afterwards, but one of them had managed to fix a fissure on that side of the ship with the battlebots and interceptors, so I admitted I had to give them some credit.

We ended up having 3 successful missions into The Deep, one with only a single scratch on our armor by a grazing attack, no less, making it my most successful new crew yet.  We even tried our luck at one of the longer missions out by the nebula, though as quickly as we moved, it wasn't quite enough to handle the constant barrage of threats.

Still, I had to count my blessings after it was all over.  Thinking on the missions also made me question the tools I bring with me on every mission -- I've always known how to work the pulse cannon better than anyone; if you've got an extra fuse and know where to poke the console, you can overload the safety threshold on the phase capacitor and extend the range out to match that of the other laser cannons.  But lately I've been wondering if I should perhaps pack my Special Ops equipment instead, or maybe a crescent wrench that I could use to jury-rig the rocket launcher like ol Yoshiko used to.  I'll have to think on it, for sure...

Saturday, June 29, 2019

A busy week...

I'm heads down in the middle of work to try and finish something for Friendship Jam, which ends on Monday!  I started off in Unity, but I'm trying to make a text-based game around letter-writing, so I tried out Twine to see if it would be a better fit.  I liked the idea of just having the game function directly in html browserland, but the Twine flow wasn't quite what I wanted, so I decided to just jank up my own Javascript/JQuery code to do it, and it's working fairly well!  I also used the tool at https://www.calligraphr.com to make a couple of handwriting fonts for the game, so my handwriting is actually in the game now as fonts, yay!  That could actually be something to apply to my blog at some point, perhaps. (?)

I've been alternatively sleeping really late and catching up as I try to work on both the writing and code for the game...Thursday night I was super dead for example so I slept for 12.5 glorious hours, which was quite refreshing.  Pretty amazing how much better I felt after that...

I was Sayuri yesterday for a brief bit!  It has been quite a long time, but I think it was nice to remember some things about it.

Other than that, actually was dealing with a number of computer-related things in the past two weeks, as I got a new work laptop (to replace the old one they gave me for my temp job).  This is probably going to be my work laptop for some time, so I wanted to take the opportunity to set up everything -- including a bootcamp partition and all.  Bootcamp assistant was pretty much flat out kaput because it didn't work correctly with the corporate software update server, so I had to manage the partitioning process myself.  I also wasn't able to setup win server on it as the installers for both WS2012 and WS2016 failed, but I WAS able to setup win10, so that's that.

I learned some other things like about how the default display setting on the new MBPs is actually a non-native resolution (!) and how gamma calibration images usually don't display properly in browsers and need to be opened in some other app (which explains a lot).  Gamma calibration seems to be getting harder and harder on the OSX platform as more and more features seem to muck around with it...this time I had to actually download a linear color profile in order to calibrate correctly.  My software gamma calibration tools of choice at the moment are QuickGamma for Win and SuperCal for OSX.

Dropbox silently instated a 3-device limit on their free service (different OSes also count as different devices) and that was no longer really going to work out super well for me, so I've made the switch over to using pCloud, which seems to be working just fine so far.

We finally secured our Aug 17th date for JaSmix!  Look forward to some announcements about that soon.

Anyhow, back to trying to write more of this story...looking forward to relaxing a bit next week.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Sometimes I feel like if I act the way I once did, then things would go back to how they used to.  It's not true, of course, but that doesn't stop me from trying anyways.

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Feeling a bit stressed, it seems, but I guess that makes sense given the things that I need to try and get done.  What's a little concerning is the amount of "latent" stress that seems to be bubbling around manifesting itself in nonsensical stress dreams and such.  But I'll do my best to be productive, then relax too.  It's gonna be ok I think!  Because I can get a lot done when I try.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

I'll believe in "forever"

even if I know it doesn't exist

Things are going pretty ok -- I'm writing this at FNW before DJing, so I guess it'll be a bit of a scattered post, haha...it's still really warm in here =(  Thank goodness that killer heat wave died down a bit at least...

Busy weekend for me, with DJing, a friend's wedding, a birthday, etc.  Nothing super stressful, just a lot to keep track of in my mind, it feels like.
On Monday my contract gig becomes a fulltime thing, woo!  It's not a world of difference or anything, just means I know what I'll be doing past next month haha.

A bunch of things that I need to get done in the coming weeks...

- Two music commissions that I gotta finish in a month or so.
- Friendship game jam! (https://itch.io/jam/friendship-jam)  Organized by npckc, not sure if we will end up getting around to making something for it but it would be nice!  It's a super casual thing so we won't just work super hard like Ludum Dare, but it also goes until the end of the month, so we'll see if we manage something.  I've played some of npckc's works and they really made me smile, especially their more recent games...I don't know if I can really write and/or design something so wholesome but we can certainly try!  Maybe if we use our meowmie power...
- A few birthday letters to write and some other writing projects to do...
- Planning for JaSmix!  Still trying to get everything nailed down...might have to prep a workshop too!  And of course put together the setlist.
- Should probably upload All in a Day's Work 4 to NetEase...
- Have a bit of cleaning and such that I should probably do...

You know, now that I've written it out, that all doesn't actually seem like that much, especially not that much that needs to get done very soon.  So I guess it's mainly just this weekend that I need to get through, haha.

I feel...OK with my connect with the past right now.  I'm not feeling in pain with it, but not feeling super great about it either.  But I am writing to Kiki, and thought of her quite a few times this past week.  I talked with someone on Wednesday who really made me think of her a lot, actually.  Kiki seems really distant, perhaps even more distant than ever now that I don't just think of her regularly.  But I do still think of her, and that distance doesn't feel painful...

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DJing went well, though somehow ended up being a bit more stressful than I expected.  There are just a bunch of things to juggle between being paranoid about volume balance, announcing songs, and checking to make sure things are running on time.  I probably played more songs than anyone else has ever played at FNW -- a full 12 songs during each set -- so I knew I had to keep things moving along.  We made it in time, though!  Yet another thing that becomes possible when being vigilant about editing songs for length...

The foobar2000 live display worked just fine, though of course FNW doesn't really have a place to put it that would be super ideal, but people seemed to think it was cool and they did end up using it, so that's nice.  Really that was more of a test run though, now that I know it all works properly I can use that in case I ever get to use a projector to have it super obvious and visible to everyone.  I know there was a lot of feedback at the last JaSmix event to have setlists up and the live-updating playlist would be my solution of being able to do that yet also being able to change things up on the fly if needed.

I realized as we were going through my setlist that I could stand to pay better attention to tempos as I'm putting together the sets.  I think about tempos carefully as I'm editing individual songs but I noticed that I could have done a better job of making sure that the faster rotary waltzes were labeled as such and were in later sets.  It's something that's easy to take for granted as an experienced dancer but I think that sort of thing is still worth considering.


Monday, June 10, 2019

foobar2000, peripherals, and Goodnight Meowmie

Let's see here...the first major thing I have to write about is foobar2000!!!

I'm perhaps ages late to the party (?), but I've finally taken the plunge and switched from using iTunes to foobar2000!  This was not a decision I took lightly, but I decided to pull the trigger after working with foobar2k and considering the pros and cons, and I've been pretty satisfied so far!

Foobar2000 is a free windows-based audio player that is known for many for its customizability, advanced features, modular design, and basically being the dream of anyone who is not scared of complexity and wants to really have their music player function the way THEY want.  It's also available for OSX as of ~1.5 years ago, though I have not tested that build yet.

Perhaps more importantly, foobar2000 now (as of ~a year ago I think) has a mobile client, available for all of iOS/Android/WindowsPhone.  This is key as one of the primary things tying me to iTunes has always been the fact that my ecosystem includes a lovely iPhone SE running iOS and of course I'd really like to have my music readily available on that.

Right, so let's first talk about the things I'm losing during the move to fb2k:
First off, syncing music to iOS is a bit more involved.  Unfortunately, foobar2000 has no way of directly interfacing with the iOS media library, so instead you write music to the foobar2000 app's sandbox and only fb2k can access it.  There is no "automatic" way to do this, but fortunately the iOS fb2k app includes an FTP server that you can use to transfer files via FTP.  This is as far as I can tell the best way to transfer music to fb2k mobile as you can't access the foobar2000 app sandbox directly (without jailbreaking your phone).

Of course there's no built-in "sync management" like there is with iTunes, so instead I first use foobar_onewaysync to copy out the relevant playlists (and their associated music files) to a temporary directory, then use WinSCP to mirror that on the iPhone over FTP.  So like I said, this is "a bit more involved", but now that I have that flow set up it's as simple as running those two commands and waiting for them to complete.

Like with all things in foobar2000, I have so much more =confidence= in what is happening here with the sync.  There would be all kinds of uncommon weird annoyances back when iTunes was in the picture -- you'd find it transferring old files again and again (why?), you'd find that certain songs were missing and showed up on the device but weren't actually playable (why?), you'd find that every time you did a sync one of your playlists mysteriously duplicated itself (why?).  I think a recurring theme so far with foobar2000 is that you have to spend some effort setting up your workflow for doing certain things, but once you do, it Just Works.

The REAL main thing I'm losing during the move to fb2k is actually a significant one: it's bluetooth media browsing via the AVRCP protocol.  In other words, browsing music via my car's on-board display (or through the controls on the steering wheel).  I can still trigger playback and track skips via bluetooth, but any attempts to browse the tracks/playlists/etc from my car's bluetooth interface will result in it looking at the native iOS music library, which is now empty (as all of the music is in foobar2000).  This is actually a pretty major loss as it means that I can't really fire up a music playlist in my car unless I'm parked or stopped for a good minute, as I have to actually do that browsing on my phone itself.

As far as I can tell there's no real way around this.  foobar2000 used to have an iPod management module but that is looooooooong defunct and iOS tends to be very closed off in terms of these sorts of things anyways.  The only way I could really get this functionality back would be to bring iTunes back into the picture, and then use iOS music as my mobile app while still using foobar2000 as my desktop/laptop music player.  We'll see if it comes to that, but I don't think it will.  foobar2000 mobile is a better media player anyhow, and I don't see an efficient way to sync from foobar2000->through itunes->to the iOS device for anything more than maybe a single playlist.

That being said, what I'm =gaining= in the transition to foobar2000 feels well worth the loss so far:
- A =working= ReplayGain implementation!  I now use replaygain to play music at adjusted volumes for normalized listening.  iTunes has a proprietary "Sound Check" feature that is supposed to do this but completely fails on VBR-encoded files.  This is super useful for social dance DJing in particular as having normalized (normalized as in equal perceived loudness, not as in peaking at 0dB) volumes is pretty important.
- I've customized my UI to include a clickable waveform display that shows the current song progress and can be clicked to seek to any point in the song.  Super useful for visually seeking to a given point in the song!
- The ability to work with ID3 tags and file metadata in a very fully-featured and rich way.  Want to convert all ID3 tags to ID3v2.3?  Want to batch-append a genre or grouping tag to 500 songs?  fb2k can do it all!
- The ability to ensure that your media library's files are organized correctly and robustly.  iTunes of course attempted to do this automatically, but it wasn't customizable at all and there were a lot of times when it would come up with filenames and/or paths that seemed a little....off.  fb2k gives you the option to organize your paths however you want and will give you a preview of what files need to be moved where before actually reorganizing everything.

Anyhow, that's sort of been an ongoing pet project of mine, but I'm basically done with the switch now and have been enjoying not only the new functionality but most of all the peace of mind and robustness that fb2k offers.

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Alongside that big customization project, I also spent quite a while looking at mechanical keyboards and finally decided to get myself a pink Filco Majestouch 2!!!  I first started thinking about buying a new keyboard when I saw the Razer Huntsman Quartz Pink edition, but after some research I figured that I'd probably be much happier with a less "consumer-y" brand and decided on the Majestouch 2.


Just look at that beauty!  It's possible I might replace the keycap color scheme with something a little more exciting in the future, but I'm happy to just try going with the all-pink for now.  I decided on Cherry MX 'brown' switches, as I'm not a huge fan of the infamous clickety-clackity noises of the blues, and I'd still like some tactile feedback (so not going with the reds).  I also decided to go with a "TenKeyLess" size -- you'll notice that it has the arrow keys and home/end/printscreen/scrolllock/etc but no numpad.  Having full arrow keys around I think is still very useful and necessary but I think I can actually live without a numpad as there are only really a few cases where I really use it and I think the prospect of having that additional desk space freed up (and having the mouse be closer to the keys) is pretty exciting.  (if I REALLY miss the numpad I could always buy a standalone numpad, but I get the feeling I really won't miss it that much)

Anyways, that should theoretically arrive in a couple days -- super exciting!!!

I've also already gone ahead and got a Quartz Pink Razer Basilisk to go along with it:


Unfortunately for getting an aesthetically-pleasing pink mouse there are wayyy fewer options than keyboards, so it was pretty much between this and the pink Razer Lancehead (which has a symmetrical design), or perhaps a pink Zowie mouse, but that seemed to both look worse and have a worse scroll wheel/etc. (despite being lighter/etc).  Razer's Synapse software is.....a bit shady to say the least, but unfortunately that is an evil I ended up having to swallow for now.

On the plus side, the mouse itself is working great.  I was previously running a Logitech MX Revolution and this mouse feels more sensitive/smoothly responsive, and the control mapping is actually a step up as well.  There's an optional thumb trigger (they give you two different sizes!) that you can use as a modifier to give yourself a whole other set of mappings, so for example thumbswitch + mouse wheel up increases my volume, thumbswitch + mouse middle click triggers a pause/play in whatever media player is open, etc.  The media controls also work better than that of Logitech's -- no annoying onscreen display and it is also pretty intelligent about looking for media players to send the command to.  I miss having the scroll wheel free-spin function, but I'm fine living without it to be honest.

No bluetooth version so I'm back to having a cord, but I don't actually find myself minding that too much either.  Plus, it's got two multicolored lights (one in the scroll wheel and one on the logo display) and I have them set up to react to whatever audio is playing from my computer, which is pretty spiffy as well.  If I wanted I could have gotten a keyboard that also has fancy backlighting (basically the corresponding Razer model) but I really didn't consider that a priority, so just the mouse lights will have to do.

Oh, related to mice: I downloaded Smooze for OSX and am happily using it for one thing and one thing only: disabling scroll wheel acceleration!  I'm not super against scroll wheel acceleration in theory, but in practice the way OSX handles scroll wheel acceleration for mouse has just never seemed to be sensible for any mouse I've used (maybe it's different for an actual apple mouse).  Now that I've completely disabled it, I can go back to sensible scrolling, yay!!!

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In other news, our game Goodnight Meowmie has gotten quite a lot of attention since I posted it on itch.io, which is really great to see, especially because I feel like this is the most significant game I've ever worked on.  It's gotten about 2.5k views on itch since I threw it up there, which is pretty amazing.  It's also been really cool watching people's video playthroughs of it on youtube, seeing their reactions and interpretations of the game.  It really makes me feel like we did something worthwhile, that we were able to reach out to people and have them listen to our story, and perhaps take it to heart.

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In other other news, I'll be DJing at Friday Night Waltz this Friday!  Be sure to come out if you're in the area, it's gonna be great!

Life has actually been going pretty fantastically lately -- this weekend was a lot of fun, between FNW, spending time with good friends, and just being in a good place.  I feel as if I'm not losing my attachment with the past because of it either.  Things are really good right now.

Monday, June 3, 2019

I still love you.  Of course.  Even the things you don't remember, you never forget.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I filed my first DMCA takedown notice today...was much easier than I expected it to be.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fanime 2019 report, etc.

I guess I may as well try to be good about linking to previous posts...here is Fanime 2018.


Blogging just to say "blahblahblah happened" and reporting on it is actually strangely exciting.  Reminds me of good old times...let's get into it!

As I mentioned earlier, I didn't have much lined up for Fanime this year and I had to leave early on Sunday to go teach private lessons (and also left Friday night to go to dance) so I wasn't even there for all that long anyhow.

Arcade gaming -- seemed pretty cool this year, but I didn't really have the time nor desire to really play a lot.  Arcade machines were set up as free play this year which is cool but may have contributed to long lines and/or the machines always being occupied at any given time and I really did not feel like trying to wait for a machine to open up.  That said I did hop on TGM3 for a bit, though not as much as I normally would because A) the sticks and controls felt a bit weird which threw me off a bit and B) I'm really not used to playing on a cab so just the actual size and style of the CRT display kind of throws me for a loop visually.  It was a different setup than the old one (my user data wasn't there) so I created a new account...was initially thinking that maybe I'd play until I got a promotional exam or something, but it became pretty clear that I really wasn't able to perform well on that cab at all, so I stopped.  Unfortunate really, but maybe for the best as I didn't have that sort of time to throw around anyways.
I also saw somebody playing 3rd Strike and he wasn't button mashing so I hopped on and played a bunch of friendlies with him!  They were pretty fun matches!  Despite my rust, I took most of them =O  He was a Hugo player, so a relatively unfamiliar matchup for me and though I had some trouble recognizing certain mixups like dash -> SPD or his running command throw, I think the hardest part was knowing what buttons to press in neutral because Hugo has such good long ranged pokes that beat out a lot of moves from afar.  He switched up to Makoto for a couple games as well and then back to Hugo and finally took one, after which I switched to Ken and played a few more before somebody else asked to play and I hopped out.  Good times.

Didn't get to hop on either (there were 2!) of the Bishi Bashi games unfortunately -- again, just didn't have the time or willingness, since I already had other gaming plans, etc. and people were already playing.  I guess these sorts of things are great for those times when you go to con early Friday or whatever and it's super not crowded.  I'll have to remember that for next time, that going on Friday during the day is actually probably a great idea to get all the Artist Alley stuff/etc done with since you want to go through those when it's less crowded, then you can do photo posing and all that when more people are around...

Went to one panel this year, Queerness and Magical Girls, which was great!  It also reminded me of just how awesome Madoka was, haha, but also had a lot of good content and great things to think about.  Yay~

We went to IPOH for roti, yay~

For my own gaming, I brought my laptop complete with Melee setup and a small group of us sat down to play some friendlies.  There ended up being 4 of us so I decided we should try out the epic "Dual 1v1" mode of 20XX where you play two simultaneous 1v1 matches (that can't interact with each other!) on the same stage, then the winners of both face off in a 2-stock match.  It was pretty hilarious, especially since having both matches going on in the same space was super visually distracting, and after one match finishes the victor is free to just spam tech skill as much as they want in an attempt to distract the other match, and do things like charge f-smashes, do rolls to confuse techchases, and general other shenanigans.  We played a few doubles matches as well -- 2v2 is not something I play very often (well, not that singles is either), but I knew that more than anything it's important to just look out to fish for kills whenever one of them is at high %.  That's one of the great strengths of Fox in a 2v2, his upsmash is just such a great quick kill option that can be thrown out whenever opportune, and it doesn't require the precision of a tipper marth fsmash or something like that.

Watched one or two of my friends perform at Fanimaid Live, so cool and so good!  Woo~

Also played around with some Puyo Puyo Tetris as well as Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes with another friend, which was great!

Artists' Alley and Dealer's Hall: Went through, bought some Journey pins and a necklace from Stephanie Kao (already have some of her prints!) -- only thing I bought all con, but it's nice to have a Journey necklace!  You know, to go along with my Journey messenger bags and Journey lanyard and Journey phone charms as I'm wearing my Journey cosplay lol.  Didn't make it all the way around Dealer's Hall (again, didn't really have the time to spare) but didn't quite care either.

I did make sure to spend at least some time going around with my hood/mask on, which surprisingly was more comfortable than I remembered for some reason.  I also discovered that the trick for photos is to just find a good spot somewhere in the main hallway (not blocking traffic) to just sprawl out and do a meditating pose -- then a ton of people just start taking photos as they pass by.  So I'm glad I got a chance to do that before leaving con for good.  I unfortunately (this always seems to happen) didn't actually get any photos of myself personally, but also didn't feel too bad about that considering I didn't have a ton of free time.

Overall a chill con as expected, though Saturday was quite a long day still.  No B&W ball this year since I had to go teach private lessons and dance with the Stanford kids, so a bit of a shame, but honestly I wouldn't have been able to handle that much dancing (let alone social energy) this weekend anyways.  But yeah, overall pretty satisfied with how things went.

Speaking of dance, that went well too.  Private lessons are always a challenge trying to really drill down and distill useful practical knowledge in a short timeframe, but they're fun and they also really push my own understanding of dance as well, so great all around.

For now in the aftermath of the weekend I'm just taking it easy I guess.  I didn't do that much today besides spend some time cleaning up and trying to work on All in a Day's Work 4.  Oh right, and I also was notified of some website blatantly stealing one of our games, sigh.  DRM sucks and all until you are an indie game dev where it's actually quite easy for people to steal your games.  It sucks because I've already implemented a crude site-lock for these games but unfortunately this site simply embeds the itch.io-hosted html5 index.html file in an iframe, so there's not that much of a good way to prevent it.  I can at least make their lives harder if the itch.io folks will maybe let me change the urls around by deleting old builds, but we'll see.  In the end, this kind of stuff is always an arms race and if people REALLY want to steal your stuff, there isn't that much you can do to stop them as an individual unless you want things to get hairy.  Beh.  Well, if I find myself with some extra time, maybe I'll look into more creative solutions, involving working around Same-Origin Policy blahblahblah.  But it might not be super doable if I also want to support itch.io.  Bleh.

But anyhoo, All in a Day's Work 4 wil be my main project moving forward for the week I'm sure.  Don't think there will be a postmortem for Inflate Me to the Moon (the only thing I'd really talk about is the SPC-style music).  There is still a fair bit of work left for All in a Day's Work 4 though.  I've gotten the album design all done at least, which is great, and I =thought= I had the tracklist done, but then I remembered that there are actually a bunch of OHC entries I did after I stopped making my "Monthlies" series where they were WIPs or other projects, so they've never been formally released.  Things like the WIP version of "Convergence", or "Song of the Sea", or even some Mysterious Space songs.  And some of those are actually pretty great!  So I had to try and make some room in the tracklist for those.  In the end I decided to cut out a few of the more recent songs and just save them for All in a Day's Work 5, because there are just too many songs that I want to put into these albums!  (figures, since it's been soooo long since All in a Day's Work 4)  Anyways, I still have to do the liner notes for all that and make =sure= that I've included all the tracks I want in the order that I want, so that'll be my main thing for the coming week....though I am also very overdue for some letter writing time.

Let's hope we can have a good week this coming week.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

I guess, let that be a lesson to myself what the consequences are when I am not doing what I know is best.  I feel sort of weird now, and I can't help but think it's because of some "mistakes" I made.  But all is well, I imagine.


Well, I'm a bit overdue for some textual decompression it seems, so let's see here...



Fanime is this weekend!  As with last year things are probably going to be looking pretty chill for me.  A few friends of mine will either be busy or MIA but I'll still have company to look out for I'm sure.  Last time I had both the Joe Hisaishi concert as well as aivisura's performance that I attended, but I don't really have any sort of thing that I'm planning for this year quite honestly.  Here's the rundown and bucket list:

- Friday I might not even stop by, if I do it'll be to quickly search through Swap Meet for some cute stationery or whatever.  I might even head to stanford to dance with the kids over there.
- Saturday I'll be there for the whole day!
- Sunday I need to leave early to go teach at the GCC dance yay

- Rumor has it that TGM3 will be at con again this year!  I plan to get in quite a good number of runs in if possible, but I probably don't want to just sit there and grind either, best to take breaks.
- 3rd strike will be there as well!  Could mess around but only if there are not already people playing b/c i don't wanna deal with that.
- Bishi Bashi will be there too, woohoo!  apparently it's Hyper Bishi Bashi??  Which is an older version than "The*BishiBashi" which was there in the past??
- I'll have my laptop and gamecube controllers for some Faster Melee action!  Will be meeting up with a friend to play, but I'm sure I could also just bring my portable setup to the existing melee setups and ask if anybody wants to play friendlies.
- I'll be bringing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes manuals too, in case we have time to defuse some bombs.
- We shall eat Roti at IPOH!  Because roti is awesome
- Apparently Aya Hirano is a guest of honor this year, that's actually pretty fantastic!  Doesn't really affect me, but that's still cool.
- No speed dating, b&w ball, gatherings, etc for me.  Did I mention I'm taking it easy?  I'm down to just hang out, but I guess I should maybe tuck my mask+hood into my bag and maybe make a round or two around the main halls if anybody wants to take photos
- I'll be wearing my red journey outfit again, if you're there you'll be able to spot me for sure!
- Artists Alley and dealer's hall whenever, as always.  I guess these are the things that are nice to do early in the morning or even on Friday before they get too crowded, but eh whatever!



I finished my work on the All in a Day's Work 4 album design:


So I've been trying to get that album ready for release!  I've picked out the track listing (unless I make something else awesome tonight for OHC), but I still have to decide the final song order, write up all the liner notes, and everything like that.



Dance stuff...as mentioned earlier, I'll be teaching this sunday, and I'm also starting to put together the preliminary plans for our annual Summer JaSmix, so be sure to stay tuned for that!



Gumbo has been my latest pet cooking project, though I utterly failed the first time I tried, lol.  Kind of interesting, I'm still not 100% keen on where exactly all the flavor comes from, but I guess maybe it really is just from the roux?  My next attempt is actually going to be with a dry roux since I don't wanna deal with stirring over low heat for an hour...



I think that's about it?  Nice to have a long weekend, it'll be welcome for sure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I've always wondered why iTunes' "Sound Check" feature (basically their implementation of replaygain) was spotty at times...turns out it completely fails to perform any sort of volume analysis on VBR (variable bitrate)-encoded files.

I used to prefer 320kbps CBR for my mp3 files but I've switched to downloading VBR from Bandcamp (I think this is -V 0 or -V 1, something like 240kbps) in an attempt to save on some disk space.

What really confuses me is that I haven't found anyone reporting this issue at all even though it's plain as day if you know what to look for.  It's not a huge deal for me as I rarely enable this feature, but I use it when playing music for dances......nice to know that it actually will only work half of the time, sigh.  Yet another argument for pre-editing every single audio file that I use for dances.  I may as well just create an FL Studio project with my entire setlist in advance at this point lol

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The past has been tugging at my sleeve a bit more these past few days.  Perhaps it's the uncertainty of the future that reminds me that the past, also, is "uncertain".  It is not something to be taken for granted, lest it fade away.


Of course, in the end, everything fades away, doesn't it?  But it is necessary for me to strive for "forever".  A pursuit of something unattainable...yet, worthwhile in its own.  As they say, it's about the journey, not the destination...especially when the destination does not exist.  But maybe even when that destination does not exist, maybe I will still find myself closer to it in the end.

I'll remember.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

Rock the House

Made a banger of a tune last night, hot dang -- worked for 5 extra hours on my OHC entry, will be played at tonight's Big Dance.  Last time that I did a last-minute composition for Big Dance was when I wrote Zodiac Procession two years ago.  It hasn't been quite a yearly thing, but it's definitely a pretty good excuse to try making dance music.

Big Dance 2019 will be my 7th all-nighter and 9th big dance (last year's post).  Should be fun, aiming to chill and take it easy for the most part and try to actually interact with everyone instead of having the ubiquitous "oh yeah we were in the same room for 9 hours but actually never danced together oops".  Will bring all the requisite supplies, including insoles (which I actually brought last year but couldn't find -_-), glowsticks, melee, and such.  Hit me up if you want to talk about dance or work on things since, ya know, we gotta do =something= to fill up those hours.

Had a dream last night that I was supposed to perform with Decadance at VBall and was running late......orz  I don't think I've ever had stress dreams about Deca before, but you know, if this is the replacement for Marching Band stress dreams, I'LL TAKE IT!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Work work work

I get (hopefully) better and better at the process each time, but doing all of the legwork to really finish off each of these Ludum Dare games and get them into a state where I say "I'm finished!" is really a long and arduous journey no matter how you slice it.  There are just so many individual things to keep track of and get done, it's a miracle that I can manage it all, but I guess that has always been a strength of mine.

Here is roughly what the task list looks like:

GAME
- Make improvements, bugfixes, and feature additions to the game itself (this could take weeks, depending on the amount of content to add)
- Port the game to mobile, including adding touch controls, alternative UI, etc.
- Make builds for WebGL, iOS, Android, test on device and fix inevitable bugs

MEDIA
- Create set of gameplay screenshots
- Create an animated gif of gameplay
- Record 30-second gameplay trailer, upload to youtube
- Use Avisynth and Me-GUI to resize and letterbox gameplay trailer to correct sizings for iOS app previews
- Record full game playthrough, upload to youtube, with appropriate description and tags
- Create app icon
- Batch resize screenshots for different iOS resolutions

PUBLISH
- Write shared game description
- Create page on ddrkirby.com, link from games and index pages
- Create page for the compo version on ddrkirby.com too
- Create page on cocoamoss.com, link from index page
- Create iOS app store page, upload screenshots (multiple resolutions), app previews (multiple resolutions), etc.
- Create Google Play store listing, upload screenshots, link to youtube video, etc.
- Create itch.io page, with game description, screenshots, link to trailer, etc.
- Post on Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Page, Discord, Slack...
- Write up post-mortem report...


MUSIC
- Fix up any mixing/mastering/etc in the music, re-render as necessary
- Render album versions of each song (loop twice and then fadeout)
- Create album artwork
- Convert all songs to FLAC, upload all to Bandcamp including both album versions and seamless loop versions
- Fill out bandcamp description, with links to game, Patreon credits, genre tags, etc.  This also includes looking at my project files to see the estimated work time per track.
- Link to bandcamp album from website
- Use After Effects to render visualized soundtrack video for streaming on Youtube -- upload to youtube with appropriate description
- Upload soundtrack to Soundcloud, NetEase cloud music as well...post timestamped comments to soundcloud for the beginning of each track...
- Create paid Patreon post linking to soundtrack download, promote soundtrack on social media too...

This is why when I do Ludum Dare you usually don't actually hear about the game itself until at least a few weeks afterwards...it's because I'm shoulder-deep in the middle of all these tasks...  some of these can be automated to =some= extent and it helps that I've got templates for a lot of this stuff as well as 3 different machines so I can literally just sit down and fire off builds for all 3 platforms at once, but in the end there is just a plain lot of STUFF no matter how you tackle it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

30th Bday, prep for Ludum Dare 44

This month is definitely a bit of a rush...after coming back from the Asia trip, I had but a short time to catch my breath and then it was onto the celebration of my 30th.  I had better write about that now I guess?

This was quite definitely the best birthday I've ever had.  Of course, it also tends to sometimes fall around the time of the spring Ludum Dare event, so sometimes the timing is weird, but even without taking that into consideration, this was by far the best it's ever been.

I wrote in 2012 that "birthdays are a reminder of how little attention people put into me and how often I can be taken for granted, as well as a reminder of the imbalances in my relationships with other people." and that sentiment was definitely an honest one at the time.  Whether these perceived imbalances were ignorantly self-inflicted or through no fault of my own is up for debate, but I definitely had not found the types of social connections that I had truly desired, and would not until the coming years (though I had at the least gotten a lot closer than before).  It was because of this (along with my own knee-jerk reactions to oppose social trends) that I originally started to deactivate my Facebook account every time my birthday rolled around -- it left me with a disgusting feeling really, that horde of people who now suddenly bothered enough to type a meaningless message to me, but only because of an automated Facebook reminder.  Realizing that that automated birthday reminder had spurred them onto more action than anything else of our relationship during the 364 other days of the year was a terrible thought.  Of course, the family celebrations didn't really help, as usually they feel like little more than rituals for their benefit and not mine (still working on that one -- but at least I have gotten them to start picking from my wishlist so I don't also leave with wholly impractical gifts).

Yet somehow after 30 years I managed to get together a great group of people whom I not only cared about but who also cared about me.  It was pretty astounding when I thought about it, I really was struck by the group that surrounded me that day and I think that day may ought to really serve as a sort of marker for myself in my life.  I planned some great activities, we had a lot of fun, and I had great help as well.  From one friend helping with tea, another helping with food preparation, another helping with miscellaneous logistics, it was truly amazing to finally have gotten together such dependable people.  Just read that post from 2012 that I linked -- what a difference!

Of course, we also totally rocked the Roosevelt Escape Room -- great success, and I felt quite proud of the team.  I think we had a great mix of both people who tried to think very quickly on their feet (me) and people who tried to be more methodic and careful (i.e. catching everyone else's mistakes).

And with that, all those people sending me short messages, somehow didn't really feel so bad anymore.

Of course, that being over, it's right into the next thing...Ludum Dare 44 is coming up this weekend!  I've been doing a bunch of prep, including updating to Unity 2019, testing some things to make sure they still work, and also setting up and testing some things for itch.io!  itch.io is sort of like the "Bandcamp of game distribution" and I've always been a fan of them and the developers that gather on their platform despite not having used them.

I do plan on trying to copy over all of our existing games over to itch, but it looks like that might (???) have to wait until after the dust from LD44 settles, as most of our recent games are actually domain-locked to avoid nasty people coming and stealing them onto their own sites.  I've added a rule to allow for itch.io hosting and tested that all to make sure it works, but I still have to go about recompiling all of the old games (probably also updating them to Unity 2019, hopefully not breaking anything in the process?), and setting up each of the project pages, etc etc etc. and that is something I just don't have the time for right now.  But I am at least set up to upload our LD44 entry onto itch.  Part of the reason I wanted to set up itch.io in the first place is because I think it does great discoverability for LD games, especially since the LD site itself has never been great at that.  (Not to mention, I might want to use itch to distribute Rhythm Quest as well!)

Anyways, Unity 2019 seems to be working well (the itch.io tests also gave me some chances to verify that older games are working fine after the upgrade, which is important since there were some bugs that I had been working around and the workaround are deprecated, so good to know that the root issues were also fixed), and I've updated my unity template project as well as forked it over and made the repo.

Other things I still need to do before LD44:
- Draw some 100x100 pixel art for this month's "Monthlies" album.  I knew this would sneak up on me even before I left for Asia...I was going to try starting this today, but then I got sidetracked by some more of the itch.io stuff and now this blog post...ugh.  Will have to try again tomorrow.  Need to get it done before LD since the end of the month is really soon after LD ends.
- Do the obligatory "I'm in" post on the LD website.
- Laundry!
- (maybe?) upload some more stuff to NetEase since I haven't for a long while
- Do a big grocery run on Friday and get lots of food and snacks :D
- If I have time, there's a boatload of letters I could probably catch up on...but not sure if that will happen =X  maybe will try to at least get to one or two...
- Keep recovering physically and don't get sick...

Things that will NOT get done before LD44:
- I have a famitracker song that I "sort of finished" on the trip to Asia but might try to flesh out (or just call it done and master it).
- Have a music commission on deck (due mid-july)
- Also a remix to do for an arrange album (due august)
- All the itch.io stuff
- Potentially hosting a GCC dance on the 18th, but leaving that up in the air based on what I feel like doing.
- There won't be another full-on JaSmix event for this quarter, but I will host the usual Summer event.  I've already done an initial reachout, now I just need to pick a good date.

Well, on the plus side, I'm somehow still cruising along and handling everything despite having a full-time job.  I do feel like I'm taking care of a lot of things...just keeping on chugging along like I do best.